Standing Rock Sioux Sues Army Corps Over Dakota Access Pipeline Approval

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sues U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over Dakota Access oil pipeline approval; Yankton Sioux issue strong condemnation letter.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for allowing the Dakota Access oil pipeline to go forward.

RELATED: Breaking: Dakota Access Pipeline Approved

The $3.78 billion, 1,172-mile-long pipeline “travels through the Tribe’s ancestral lands and passes within half a mile of its current reservation,” the Standing Rock Sioux said in a statement released via Earthjustice, the nonprofit environmental law firm bringing the action.

“The Corps puts our water and the lives and livelihoods of many in jeopardy,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II in a statement. “We have laws that require federal agencies to consider environmental risks and protection of Indian historic and sacred sites. But the Army Corps has ignored all those laws and fast-tracked this massive project just to meet the pipeline’s aggressive construction schedule.”

The Standing Rock Sioux are not the only tribe to object to the approval. The Yankton Sioux, too, issued a statement strongly condemning the move, especially given the lack of consultation.

“We are on a warpath,” said Yankton Sioux Business and Claims Committee Member Jason Cooke in a statement. “We as a nation are very outraged and disappointed with the Corps and their decision and lack of consultation with our people.”

That lack of consultation among other oversights, puts at risk “untold numbers of burials and cultural sites, many of which have not been identified due to Dakota Access’ failure to utilize Tribal experts in its cultural survey process,” the tribe said. “Yankton Sioux Tribal leadership believes that the Corps’ action in taking this major step to advance the project without legally-mandated consultation with the Tribe is unacceptable and a violation of federal law.”

Meanwhile, on August 1, several fires that police said were intentionally set torched about $1 million worth of equipment at three points along the route in Iowa, one of the four states the pipeline will traverse, according to the Associated Press.

“It’s a shameful act by a group of people trying to disrupt our energy security and independence,” Dakota Access officials told AP. 

The Standing Rock Sioux filed its complaint in federal court in Washington DC on July 27, charging that similarly, the Army Corps did not even examine the Standing Rock Sioux’s objections and overlooked the pipeline’s potential impact on ancestral lands, the statement said. The approval also ignores the pleas of three federal agencies—the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation—which have all recommended that a full environmental review be conducted.

RELATED: Dakota Access Pipeline: Three Federal Agencies Side With Standing Rock Sioux, Demand Review

“There have been shopping malls that have received more environmental review and tribal consultation than this massive crude oil pipeline,” said Jan Hasselman, an Earthjustice attorney, in the organization's statement. “Pipelines spill and leak—it’s not a matter of if but when. Construction will destroy sacred and historically significant sites. We need to take a time out and ensure that the Corps follows the law before rushing ahead with permits.”